Sunday, December 5, 2021

REVIEW: 'Succession' - Logan and Caroline Crush Their Children Who Are More Isolated Than Ever Before in 'Chiantishire'

HBO's Succession - Episode 3.08 "Chiantishire"

At a luxe family wedding in Italy, Roman airs suspicions, Gerri draws a line, and the Waystar team grows concerned about rogue tweets.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of HBO's Succession.

"Chiantishire" was written by Jesse Armstrong and directed by Mark Mylod

Kendall is drowning. That image evokes so many past moments of isolation and destruction for him. It's complete horror at the conclusion of this episode. It's also played as the latest cliffhanger meant to drive countless speculation about what it all means. In fact, the show could easily go either way in terms of life or death. That moment could be Kendall's latest rock bottom. All his previous attempts of reinvention have failed - including shaving his head here. He continues to be knocked down and degraded. He could have returned to the same toxic coping mechanisms of the past which eventually got him killed. Or it could all be interpreted as the physical expression of his internal tragedy wherein he is constantly being abused by the family. That concept means so much to every Roy. The isolation from that pact is palpable especially for Kendall. He may never be able to return to the family. What he once had is now gone forever. He had to prove himself as a killer. And now, he surrenders. He admits that his father cannot be defeated. The best he can hope for is to be bought out. He doesn't know what life has in store for him without the definition that comes from being a member of this family. It's the only alternative that he can pursue that has even a flicker of hope to it. Logan denies his son that grace. It all comes from being called evil. That's certainly an apt description for Logan. He views it all as matching what the world ultimately is. Kendall sees things in the context of grandiosity and a savior's complex. He isn't good though. Their dynamic cannot be approached in such binary terms of good versus evil. Logan has pushed all of his children. Family means so much to him. It's frankly the only thing of value he ascribes to his marriage to Caroline. It keeps her in all of their lives when she could have easily been tossed aside like so many others who desperately want to be invited into the family. Kendall wants out. He may never receive that. That's cruel in its own way because Logan made the first offer. That was his gift for his son's birthday. But now, Logan holds all the power. That confrontation is so powerful and rich in tragedy. It highlights the ways in which Logan actually is evil as well as how Kendall perceives him as such. Logan may not ultimately go that far. Kendall really is a killer though. His father won't let him forget that. Nor should anyone actually. It's terrifying regardless of Kendall's emotional state. That's true in his pathetic moments at rock bottom as well as his celebratory times believing he has won. He can't cope with anything. He continues having to abide by his father's wishes and desires. That's true of the entire family. Of course, the company may be forced into a corner. That too only invites further destruction into their worlds.

Logan isn't the only terrible parent though. No one in the Roy family actually cares about the demands of parenthood. The overall idea of family is meaningful to them. But they see it as people bound to them no matter what. They have the freedom to be as cruel and demoralizing as they want because the other cannot leave. That's ingrained in them. And yet, Caroline admits that she shouldn't have had children. That comes after she and Shiv disagree over the details of the divorce and Logan having custody. It's only in response to this conversation that Shiv is willing to engage with Tom about having children. She doesn't want them. That's evident and has been for a long time. It's something of value for Tom. It's not enough to damage how much he loves her. But he wallows upon the remarks made in the bedroom. Shiv says she doesn't love Tom. That's true. She wants to believe that he is using her to gain status. That's the same advice they give to Greg as he wonders if Comfry has any depth whatsoever. That too is a fleeting concept that no person can dictate to another. It highlights Greg's own cruelty. But again, this is all meant to highlight how reactionary Shiv can be. She needs to prove others wrong. It's not her fighting for or pursuing her own interests. Others dictate how valuable something should be for her. As such, she is always eager to please. She dominates. She has that compulsion. She succeeds from time to time as well. She can offer her father some advice too. But she remains incapable of rising herself in complete honesty. She waits for others to completely implode. That too has been conditioned into her as a result of her parents. So much of this series is about the ways in which the Roy siblings are messed up because of their father. They all have severe personality flaws that hinder their relationships with others. He remains in control. He wields so much power. He shows up to Caroline's wedding weekend with Marcia - the latest wife he's divorcing - and Kerry - the new woman he's sleeping with. It could be humbling for him to have to accept the GoJo deal as a merger of equals. Roman and the team can successfully spin it so that Waystar remains more of the beneficiary of the deal. That's inevitable given their desperation for this acquisition to expand into the business of the future. It can all be derailed with a few tweets and a picture sent to the wrong recipient though. Again, the world at large knows how damaging those things can be in the current environment. It invades the lives of these people at the heights of the social class too. The fallout is even more severe. It takes a moment for Roman to understand the severity of the item he has just sent his father. It all came as he felt empowered and needing to act on his obsession with Gerri. She encouraged it at one point. She demands professionalism now. He still reads any approval as a sign to further sexually harass her. Even when it's exposed, Shiv is quick to turn her sights on Gerri in the hopes this produces the power grab she needs to gain control. It's all selfish and vicious. This family is perfectly capable of tearing each other apart. They don't need the help of outside influences. Family means everything. And yet, they have all been severely damaged in their psyches as a result of what being a Roy demands of them at any possible second. They are all evil. They are still flawed and imperfect. That doesn't excuse any of their behavior either. They are all just obsessed with the pursuit of power to the point where it could actually turn deadly for one of their own (even one who has been isolated for awhile now).